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Movie Night - Last Christmas

It's the Holiday season and perhaps you need a "onesie" Holiday movie break over the relentless radio bombardment of Bing Crosby and Mariah Carey fighting for the #1 spot on the most (over)played Christmas song ever list.


If you are looking for some respite, inspiration and fun, here is a "Movie Night Guide" to help you plan a fun gathering with friends and family. We generated this "Movie Night" plan with the help of "Muse" and "Ember" our AI inspiration assistants, which means that you can do this as well... All we did was type "Last Christmas" and our prompts generated the rest.


Last Christmas movie poster. From Apple TV
Watch "Last Christmas" this Movie Night
  • A summary of the movie

  • The cast

  • Awards received

  • A recommended meal

  • A recommended drink


Not to be the master of the obvious - there are spoilers ahead!





Get ready to enjoy "Last Christmas"



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The Story


"Last Christmas" sweeps us into the picturesque but frenzied bustle of central London during the most charming time of the year. Through the eyes of the protagonist, Kate, portrayed by the luminous Emilia Clarke, we encounter a protagonist whose life lacks luster and direction. Kate, once an aspiring singer, finds herself caught in a continuous loop of bad decisions, misfortune, and a series of one-night stands that hint at her underlying self-destructive tendencies. She wanders through life with a heavy heart, yearning for an elusive sense of purpose and identity.


Her days are spent working at a whimsical Christmas shop, which operates year-round, under the watchful eye of her strict yet endearing boss, portrayed by Michelle Yeoh. Here, Kate dons a festive elf costume, standing as a reluctant mascot of holiday joy, which she finds herself unable to internalize given the state of chaos that defines her personal life.




Last Christmas movie poster
"Last Christmas" movie poster

Yet, the holiday season brings the unexpected into Kate’s life when she serendipitously meets Tom, a charismatic and mysterious stranger, played by the dashing Henry Golding. With an enigmatic past and a persistence to live life with mindful intention, Tom begins to break through Kate’s fortified walls, leading her to venture on a transformative journey that tugs at her closed heartstrings. As their friendship unfolds, Tom's optimistic and sometimes peculiar outlook on life turns Kate's world upside animating her to rediscover the beauty in her surroundings and the richness in human connections.


The movie expertly marries the traditional elements of a romantic comedy with an underlying thread of deeper themes such as family struggles, immigration, and personal health crises. The audience learns of Kate's Yugoslavian heritage, which is marbled with her family's troubled experience as immigrants, adding layers to her complex character and the origins of her seemingly flippant behavior.


The film navigates through a tapestry of themes and emotions, treating viewers to delightful background nods to the festive spirit with decorations, lights, and the spirit of Christmas omnipresent from beginning to end. Emma Thompson's thoughtful writing infuses the plot with humor, poignancy, and unexpected twists that keep the audience engaged and guessing.

"Last Christmas" promises not just the


Unfurling of a holiday romance, but an inspirational tale of self-discovery, healing, and the value of second chances. With London's holiday charm as the backdrop and a soundtrack celebrating the legendary music of George Michael, including the film’s titular song, this romantic comedy aspires to resonate with many, offering a modern-day Christmas parable that stays with one well beyond the festive season.



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Cast


"Last Christmas" brings life to its touching narrative through a carefully selected cast who convey a sense of genuine warmth, complex emotion, and holiday cheer. The cast is led by Emilia Clarke, who audiences primarily recognize from her role as the formidable Daenerys Targaryen in "Game of Thrones." In a substantial departure from her dragon-queen persona, Clarke adopts the role of Kate, a character whose disarrayed lifestyle and jaded outlook on life contrast deeply with the actress's typically powerful roles. Clarke's portrayal of the flawed yet endearing Kate showcases her versatility and adds depth to the overarching theme of second chances and self-discovery.


Opposite Clarke is Henry Golding, quickly rising to prominence in Hollywood following his performance in "Crazy Rich Asians." As Tom, Golding embodies an enigmatic charm that gradually unfolds to reveal layers of complexity throughout the film. His gentle onscreen presence and ability to connect with Clarke’s character add a palpable chemistry to their interaction, offering audiences a glimpse into Tom's nurturing persona. Tom's encouragement for Kate to appreciate the smaller things in life allows the narrative to seamlessly blend romance with personal growth.


Supporting Clarke and Golding is a cast of equally talented actors who add to the film's genuine sense of family and community. Emma Thompson, who co-wrote the script, also steps into the role of Petra, Kate’s Yugoslavian mother. Thompson delivers a performance that captures the overprotective yet deeply loving nature of a mother coping with her own difficulties.


Michelle Yeoh presents a standout performance as Santa, the strict but fair owner of the Christmas shop where Kate works. Yeoh brilliantly balances the stern exterior of her character with moments of humor and compassion. Her growing romantic subplot adds an additional layer of warmth to the holiday setting.


Completing the main ensemble, Lydia Leonard and Boris Isakovic play Kate's sister Marta and father Ivan, respectively. Through their interactions, viewers gain insight into the complexities of an immigrant family adapting to life in London, dealing with past political strife, and striving to maintain their cultural identity.


Each member of the cast contributes significantly to the film's overlapping themes of family, love, cultural identity, and seasonal goodwill. The characters they bring to life are multi-dimensional, grounding the Christmas whimsy in genuine human connection and personal struggles. Exploring the cast's contribution to "Last Christmas" provides a deeper understanding of the film’s emotional resonance and highlights the importance of casting in bringing out the subtle nuances that make a story relatable and authentic. This ensemble embodies the diverse spirit of London and the transformative power of the Christmas season, ultimately reminding us of the beauty in forging new bonds and cherishing established ones.



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Awards


Within the realm of festive cinema, romantic comedies hold a special place, especially those that capture the essence of the holiday season with humor and heart. "Last Christmas" is one such film that, while it might not have swept major award shows, still holds a presence in the discussions about holiday movies. In this lesson, we delve into the film's critical reception and the various nominations and awards that it was associated with, understanding the context of its achievements and the common critiques it faced.


Released in 2019, "Last Christmas" was acknowledged for distinct elements contributing to its charm and festive appeal. The movie's vivid portrayal of London during Christmastime, with its beautifully decorated streets and cozy shop windows, earned considerable admiration. The film's production design took great care to encapsulate the vibrancy and energy of the city's holiday season, transporting audiences into a world that felt both magical and authentic.


Despite a lukewarm reception from some critics, who felt that the story’s twists were too predictable or that the film leaned heavily on clichés, audiences were more forgiving, often celebrating the film's sentimentality and feel-good nature. The heartfelt performances, especially by lead actors Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding, charmed viewers and brought depth to the holiday romantic comedy.


The use of George Michael's music throughout the film was one of its most highlighted features. Guided by the late singer's discography, the soundtrack played a significant role in setting the tone and was met with praise. Audiences were treated to a range of his hits, alongside lesser-known tracks and even some unreleased material, which offered fans a new way to connect with the iconic artist's work.


"Last Christmas" secured a few nominations in categories such as Best Soundtrack from the Hollywood Music in Media Awards, thanks to its effective use of George Michael’s music. It also contended for nominations for art direction and costume design, often cited for the vibrant and detail-oriented view of London in the winter and the distinct holiday attire of its characters.

Upon reflecting on the critical and public response, "Last Christmas" reminds us that the impact of a film is not purely based on the awards it receives or the critic scores it accumulates. The holiday season naturally brings a regardless of yearning for stories that radiate warmth, hope, and joy—elements that "Last Christmas" provided its viewers.


Through its picturesque setting, charming cast performances, and soulful soundtrack, "Last Christmas" carved a spot in the holiday movie landscape. It emulates the spirit of the season and highlights themes of personal growth, giving, and the powerful simplicity of human connection, reflecting the very heart of Christmas itself. From the streets of London to the uniquely spun narrative inspired by a classic holiday tune, the film brought to life a modern Christmas tale, perhaps earning its most significant accolade in the form of becoming a seasonal favorite for its audiences.



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The Meal

Roasted Chicken


"Last Christmas" is set in the heart of London, a city known for its diverse culinary scene as well as its rich heritage of British cuisine. As we sit down to watch this heartwarming tale unfold, the ideal companion meal is one that personifies comfort and mirrors the festive, convivial atmosphere of the season depicted in the movie.


For our thematic meal, we shall focus on crafting a classic British holiday feast with a sophisticated yet homely feel. The centerpiece of our meal is a succulent Roast Chicken, which is not only a staple but also a symbol of family gatherings and holiday warmth. It is a simpler alternative to the traditional Christmas turkey, making it more accessible for a small family or a cozy movie night setup. The chicken will be seasoned with a blend of aromatic herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage, rubbed under the skin with a generous helping of butter for rich flavor and to ensure the meat stays moist.


Additionally, the same herbs, along with a halved garlic bulb and slices of lemon, will fill the cavity of the chicken, infusing it with fragrant and citrusy notes during the roasting process. The chicken should be placed in a preheated oven at around 375°F (190°C) and cooked until the juices run clear and the skin crisps up to a golden brown. The use of a meat thermometer is recommended to ensure it's cooked safely to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).


To accompany our main dish, we need hearty, comforting sides. Roasted vegetables, such as parsnips, carrots, and Brussels sprouts tossed in olive oil, salt, and a touch of honey, offer a delightful mix of textures and flavors. They caramelize in the oven, bringing out a natural sweetness that balances the savoriness of the meal.


Another key component of our holiday meal is the Yorkshire pudding, a traditional British accompaniment made from a batter of eggs, flour, and milk. When baked in the oven, it balloons into a light and airy structure with a crisp exterior and a soft, tender middle that is perfect for sopping up gravy.


Gravy itself is an essential element of this meal. Made from the pan juices of the roast chicken, enriched with chicken stock, a splash of white wine, and thickened with a roux, it adds a velvety and savory depth to each dish on the plate. To add body to the gravy, finely chopped onions and a hint of Dijon mustard can be incorporated while cooking.


Lastly, no British holiday meal is complete without the inclusion of stuffing. We propose a sage and onion stuffing, with breadcrumbs, fresh herbs, and a burst of tartness from dried cranberries, that harmonizes beautifully with the other components and introduces a subtle nod to the festive season.


To assemble this meal, begin prep work by seasoning and roasting the chicken. While the chicken is in the oven, prepare your vegetables and put them to roast during the last 30 to 40 minutes of the chicken's cooking time. Next, you can prepare the batter for the Yorkshire puddings and the ingredients for your stuffing. Once the chicken is out of the oven and resting, use the oven's residual heat to cook the Yorkshire puddings and bake the stuffing.


Serve the piping hot meal on warm plates, ladle the rich gravy over the top, and pair with "Last Christmas" playing in the background for the quintessential modern British Christmas experience. Every bite of this exquisite meal aims to marry perfectly with the spirit of romance, heartache, and holiday joy found within the film's narrative.



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The Drink

"Mulled Wine"


"Last Christmas" is a film replete with festive cheer, heartwarming moments, and an unmistakable sense of comfort. What better way to enhance this cozy atmosphere than with a delightful drink that captures the essence of the holiday season? In this lesson, we'll focus on crafting the ultimate companion beverage. A range of options is available, but we'll hone in on a traditional favorite with a contemporary twist—a spiced citrus mulled wine.


Mulled wine is deeply rooted in holiday tradition, its origins dating back to Roman times when wine would be heated and spiced. Today, it serves as a staple in holiday celebrations, particularly in Europe, warming the body and soul against the winter chill. Our variation incorporates citrus elements, infusing a bright zestiness into the spiced libation, adding complexity and depth that mirror the movie's themes of renewal and brightness amidst the backdrop of London's winter.


Here's how you can make your own spiced citrus mulled wine:


Ingredients:

- 1 bottle of good-quality red wine (a fruity variety works well, such as Merlot or Zinfandel)

- 1 orange, sliced into rounds (plus extra for garnish)

- 1 lemon, sliced into rounds

- 1 lime, sliced into rounds

- 1/4 cup of brandy (optional for extra warmth)

- 1/4 to 1/2 cup of honey or sugar (depending on preferred sweetness)

- 2 cinnamon sticks

- 2 star anise

- 4 to 6 cloves

- 2 to 3 cardamom pods, gently crushed

- A pinch of nutmeg


Instructions:

1. Begin with preparing the citrus slices. Thoroughly wash the orange, lemon, and lime, then slice them into rounds. These slices will not only impart a beautiful citrus aroma but will also become edible treats infused with spices and wine.

2. In a large saucepan, combine the spices—cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves, crushed cardamom pods, and a pinch of nutmeg. Begin to heat them gently over low heat until they become aromatic. This process of toasting the spices will maximize their flavor, permeating the wine with a sense of depth and comfort.

3. To the saucepan, add the honey or sugar along with a small amount of wine, enough to dissolve the sweetener over medium heat. Stir continuously to integrate the sweetness throughout. This syrup base will help distribute the spices evenly when the rest of the wine is added.

4. Pour in the rest of the wine along with the brandy, if using. Add the orange, lemon, and lime rounds. Stir the concoction gently to combine.

5. Warm the mulled wine over low heat for at least 20 to 25 minutes, ensuring it does not boil. Allowing it to simmer gently will enable the flavors to meld together. The goal is to achieve a harmonious balance where the spices, citrus, and wine create a unified profile. The aroma will be rich with notes of citrus and warmth from the spices—it should be like a holiday in a pot.

6. Once heated through and infused with flavor, strain the mulled wine to remove the solids, if desired, and ladle it into mugs or heatproof glasses. Garnish with a fresh round of orange or a cinnamon stick, if you choose.


This spiced citrus mulled wine pairs beautifully with the sentimental moments of "Last Christmas," the warmth of the spices mirroring the evolving warmth of the protagonist’s heart. As the characters navigate the complexities of life and seek genuine connections, sipping this fragrant and soothing beverage accentuates the movie's overarching message of hope, transformation, and the joy of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary.


So cozy up with a blanket, pour yourself a mug of this festive mulled wine, and press play. As the narrative of “Last Christmas” unfolds, your senses will be completely immersed in the seasonal radiance of love, laughter, and newfound beginnings, with each sip reminding you of the movie's charm and spirit.


Enjoy movie night... send us suggestions for the next or better yet, generate your own at artisticfuel.com!



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